‘Cancer, Balance & Wellbeing’ Retreats

Lifestyle practices to support health and healing
2024 – Yarra Valley Living Centre

Dear Friends,

After our third very successful Cancer retreat in October 2023 (following the cessation of The Gawler Cancer Foundation retreats), we are delighted to bring you 2 more ‘Cancer, Balance and Wellbeing’ Retreats to be held in 2024 at the beautiful Yarra Valley Living Centre, Yarra Junction:

11.00 AM Monday 22nd – Friday 26th April, 2024

11.00 AM Wednesday 25th – Sunday 29th September, 2024

Facilitated by a strong and dedicated team, the cancer retreat programme is based on the Integrative Medicine model, honoring the principles and 40 years of teachings of The Gawler Cancer Foundation with additional contemporary researched material and teachings from a variety of current worldwide sources.

Some of you have attended previous retreats and are already familiar with this beautiful place – and to many of you, it is a delight yet to be explored.
Built within 40 acres of stunning Australian bushland, the property features a wonderful array of birdlife and wildlife, the Little Yarra river, private gardens, a labyrinth and peaceful meditation settings, with fruit trees and herb gardens. Visitors and participants often comment that as one drives in the gate (watched by curious kangaroos) “a sense of peace gently comes over you…”

This is a unique and special place – the retreat buildings featuring a spacious and peaceful meditation sanctuary, comfortable attractive well-appointed accommodation wings, a large dining room, private lounge and a welcoming main teaching room – all well ‘seasoned’ over many years by visitors from all over Australia and NZ (and further) who have come to learn, to meditate, to discover, experience and embrace new ways of being – new ways of health.

It is both honest and important to acknowledge that in the last decade especially, there has been a significant increase in the amount of lifestyle cancer research and self-help online – but a retreat offers so much more …

A cancer diagnosis is a life changing event in anyone’s life. And the unique experience of meeting, sharing, discussions and living on retreat with others also with a cancer diagnosis offers a depth of learning, enjoyment and integration that is invaluable – and in the words of one participant “the retreat was my turning point”.

The relationship between the retreat centre and its natural environment is evident each day as we walk, we practice Qi gong, and we meditate to birdsong and the sounds of nature – the natural bush environment surrounding and enhancing the retreat experience in both subtle and significant ways.

If you or someone you love has a cancer diagnosis, this retreat offers the opportunity to step away from all the demands of everyday life, to learn the established researched practices that support your best health outcomes and assist you as you undertake your medical treatment. This retreat is for people who want to be actively involved in their own health journey – committed to improved wellbeing.

The retreat provides:

–  A full and interesting program (with a daily rest period after lunch)
–  Delicious fresh whole food plant-based meals and fresh vegie juices
–  Comfortable attractive accommodation designed for privacy and peace
–  Experienced attentive staff who are well familiar with supporting health retreat participants with chronic illness
–  A chance to withdraw from daily life and reflect on the bigger picture

The programme: (Note: the full schedule is provided on retreat)

7 Essential elements: The daily teachings cover fully each of the 7 Essential elements that are considered helpful for a healthy anti-cancer lifestyle, with relevant evidence-based research within each topic.

Meditation: 2 full teaching sessions on the theory, research, benefits and practice of meditation – exploring the relationship between stress and illness, and balance and wellness. And each day we meditate together in the Sanctuary, deepening the experiential practice and understanding, ideal for both experienced and new meditators.

Whole food Plant based Nutrition: 3 sessions where we explore the relationship between health and nutrition, as we deepen down your knowledge, understanding and motivation for living fresh each day with a plant-based style of eating.

The power (and science) of mind: Using the mind to build strength, resilience and clarity of direction. We explore the science of Psycho- neuroimmunology and Neuroplasticity – gaining insight into our own habitual patterns and creating new pathways.

Healthy emotions and healing: Understanding our emotions, our individual emotional style and how our emotional responses can affect our health and support our recovery – and increasing resilience and optimism in our lives.

Support & Communication: Gaining effective support from our chosen tribe for this health journey by communicating clearly and establishing boundaries. Exercise and Movement: Exploring the researched benefits to wellbeing of daily enjoyable movement.

Spirituality and life meaning: Learning to live in Balance with daily gratitude, purpose and intention. We explore what gives meaning to our individual lives, and the importance of connectedness to self, others, environment within our lives.


‘Restful Sleep’ An extra workshop – practices for a deeper restful sleep every night. Our immune function is well supported by good restful sleep – an often forgotten essential aspect of healing.

Qi gong: A daily 30 minute practice of gentle symmetrical traditional Qi gong movements for health and wellbeing – a ‘movement meditation’ down beside the river or in the meadow.

Recovery stories: When diagnosed with cancer, hearing real stories of real people making real recoveries inspires our belief and builds our faith in what is possible – and helps hold us to our intentions to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Music: Music is a significant and divine blessing within this retreat, and you are in the company of a very very gifted musician. Stay tuned…

Retreat Fees:

$1595.00 Retreat with shared accommodation – multi-share rooms with shared attached bathrooms

$1995.00 Retreat with shared twin room and ensuite (Support people attending pay 75% of the full fee)

$2995.00 Retreat with private room, King single bed and ensuite (Subject to availability)

Please note: Accommodation is booked on a ‘first in, first served’ basis. Whilst we endeavor to meet your accommodation needs, an early booking is wise to secure the accommodation that best suits you.

Enquiries: cancerbalanceandwellbeing@gmail.com
Please see below for information on our experienced retreat team.

Best wishes in health, Liz Stilwell & Sandy Clinton

Introducing the Retreat Team:

Liz Stilwell, Retreat Facilitator

Liz has an extensive 35 years in Health – Initially an Occupational Therapist in Psychiatry, then counselling, clinical hypnosis and N.L.P in private practice. She trained with The Gawler Cancer Foundation from 2004, and led Lifestyle change programmes for cancer, Mindfulness meditation courses, and counselled many people with cancer at The Gawler Cancer Foundation City branch. Her counselling sessions specialise in processes for trauma recovery, anxiety, depression and insomnia – her approach influenced by her meditation practice. At TGCF, Liz later facilitated monthly Cancer Retreats and co-facilitated MS retreats. And for 5 years, Liz assisted Drs Ian and Ruth Gawler in leading annual Meditation Retreats in the Coromandel Peninsula, NZ.

As a Spiritual Carer in Palliative care, Liz carries a compassionate holistic approach to finding peace and meaning through chronic illness and end of life.
She advocates strongly for a life created and directed by the heart, and holds a deep lifelong interest in spirituality and living with purpose.

Diploma Occupational Therapy
Registered Meditation Teacher
Radical Remission Coach
Cancer Retreat Facilitator
Clinical Hypnotherapist
Master Practitioner N.L.P Spiritual
Carer in Palliative Care

Liz is a keen traveller, singer, meditator and a besotted and passionate gardener of several decades, with a well-developed sense of humus. She lives on the Mornington peninsula and enjoys poetry, writing, cooking, Qi gong practice beside the sea, reading and bush walking. She is also a sea wolf – a rare species of howling salty women who inhabit the cool early morning tides of the peninsula.

Dr Peter Johnston, Facilitator
Accredited Practicing Dietitian & Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner

Peter is an accredited practicing dietitian with a Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics and a PhD in Human Genetics. Peter is also a fellow of the Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine and has completed health coaching training with Well Start Health. He has been exclusively plant-based since 1991 after learning of the health, environmental and ethical benefits. Peter runs a private practice: Perfect Human Food Consulting, offering individual consultations, public speaking, webinars, workplace health programs, and residential reboot programs. Peter is a member of the advisory council for health charity Doctors For Nutrition. He is also a partner with Melbourne Lifestyle Medicine which offers a range of programs including residential retreats. He has expertise in the prevention, treatment and reversal of chronic diseases through the use of whole food plant-based diets and the holistic approach of lifestyle medicine. He enjoys empowering people across all life stages to attain optimal health. Peter has enjoyed attending and speaking at numerous national and international conferences. He has a special interest in the links between food and environment and has also run university lectures in this area.

Fellow of the Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine Accredited Practicing Dietitia
Doctors For Nutrition Advisory Council member
B.A. (Psychology) – University of Canterbury (NZ)
B.Sc. Hons (Zoology) – University of Canterbury (NZ)
M.Sc. (Nutrition and Dietetics) – University of Wollongong
Ph.D. (Human Genetics) – Australian National University
Post-doctoral Research Fellowship – McGill University, Canada

In his leisure time, Peter is an avid yoga practitioner, loves to cook and garden, lifts weights (I don’t love this but it is so important for ageing well) and competes in speed windsurfing.

Sandy Clinton, Retreat Co-ordinator & Administration

Sandy joined The Gawler Cancer Foundation in 2006 and has developed and deepened her interest and appreciation for the mind-body connection since then. She assisted hundreds of people in the Client Services role which gave her a unique insight into the challenges people face when diagnosed with a chronic illness and wanting to improve and maintain their wellbeing. This led her to train as an Ageless Grace ® Educator, and she rejoices in delivering this brain health fitness program as often as possible. Sandy takes true joy in supporting the journey of discovery participants experience during a retreat

Diploma of Social Work
Certified Ageless Grace ® Educator
Graduate of Neuroscience Academy

Passionate about empowering people to live their best life, Sandy loves life and laughter, enjoys reading, yoga, qi gong, chanting, cats, being in nature, travelling the globe, knitting to her heart’s content and singing with joy.

Michael Johnson OAM, Retreat Facilitator
Harpist and Composer

A concert performer and composer, Michael has also worked for many years in the field of therapeutic support through music. His tranquil harp music has been a significant part of the retreats at the Gawler Foundation for over thirty years. He is also Music & Mindfulness coordinator at Delmont psychiatric Hospital and Road Trauma Support services Victoria. He leads seminars, workshops and Inservice sessions for businesses for staff professional development. Michael has been the resident composer at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne for over twenty years, organising the Harp in the Gardens concert program. The Botanic Gardens have also embraced his therapeutic skills and host Michael’s Harp Meditations regularly in several gardens.

Our retreat team is enthusiastic and deeply committed to providing you with a memorable, rewarding, and transformative retreat experience in your health journey.

Together with the kind and supportive staff and volunteers of Brahma Kumaris of the Yarra Valley Living Centre, we welcome you with open hearts, delicious food, comfortable accommodation, and world class teachings.


Sandy Clinton
Email: cancerbalanceandwellbeing@gmail.com
Phone: 0432 240 427

Registration Form:

Click Here To Open and Download (4 Pages)
Complete and email to cancerbalanceandwellbeing@gmail.com

Cancer Retreat Testimonials

“I came from New York city for this retreat at great cost and effort. It was so worth it! I felt supported by the group solidarity amongst the participants. Liz and Sandy are highly experienced professionals and were very flexible and always positive and helpful. I also enjoyed the atmosphere created by the Brahma Kumaris.” J.N. US

“The retreat was everything I’d hoped for, and the location itself is stunning and very healing. Liz and Sandy are wonderful – their passion and experience shines through in the booking process, the presentations and all the program content – including very healing meditations and Qi gong every morning. I’m leaving feeling much more optimistic about my future with some solid practical strategies around recovering from cancer.” S.P.

“The cancer retreat is a lovely place to retreat in a beautiful natural environment. The course was so informative and helpful and run in an engaging, affirming, comforting and, dare I say, loving way. It can only add to one’s recovery options.” K.P.

“The retreat provided lots of information, ideas, experiences, techniques and hope for dealing with cancer. The beautiful and peaceful environment further enhanced the experiences at Liz and Sandy’s expert hands. Liz is a fantastic presenter – we really appreciated her style, and there were also important learnings from the experiences of other participants.” D. M.

I have attended several retreats at the Yarra Valley Living Centre for cancer – these experiences and learnings have assisted me not only in my cancer journey and life but introduced me to Meditation which I still practise to this day.
At each of these retreats there have been fabulous learnings, experienced facilitators, new experiences, and meetings with individuals from all walks of life and different places. The whole food plant based food is delicious with great variety & plenty on offer. I am not vegan but I do eat a lot of plant based meals & don’t miss not having animal proteins at all. To anyone who is contemplating attending one of these retreats, just do it.” K.D